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Copps Pans Powell Silence

Democratic Federal Communications Commission members Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein are joining with a group of unions -- representing a half-million media workers -- and some Democrat and independent lawmakers to push for more public hearings on new media-ownership rules.

Copps yesterday also expressed his disappointment with the lack of action from Chairman Michael Powell on his and Adelstein’s request for public hearings to start ASAP.  An obviously frustrated Copps said Monday while addressing activists on another media front: “I have asked Chairman Powell to set up a series of ownership hearings around the country starting right away.  We don't have time to waste on this.  But it's been almost a month since I asked and, so far, no response.” 

The two are scheduled to join representatives of the Writers Guild of America, National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, AFTRA and others at a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday calling for "full public hearings" before any new rules are written.

The unions will also release a study they say illustrates the "decline in quality and diversity of news coverage" in the wake of industry consolidation.

A Philadelphia appeals court sent the FCC's June 2003 deregulatory rule rewrite back to the commission last month with the mandate of justifying and/or rewriting them.

Copps and Adelstein have long called for more public input into the rule rewrite process, while FCC Chairman Michael Powell has favored dealing with some of the consolidation-related issues in a public interest inquiry separate from the structural reg rewrite .